If simple carbs are used strategically, they have shown to be an effective strategy for recovery and reduced glucose spikes.
But first, what is a simple carb? Simple carbs simply put (no pun intended) are carbohydrates that are digested quickly into your bloodstream. These carbs are found naturally in fruits, milk & milk products. You can also find simple carbs in processed foods. As with everything diet related, we should aim to get as much of our nutrients from natural sources as possible.
Now that we know what a simple carb is, how can we use them effectively to maximize our work in the gym and optimize our recovery outside of it? For starters we will take a look at the pre workout meal.
Pre workout meals are a great way to get your body primed and ready to go for the workout ahead. When we consider eating, you want to consume your meal 1-2 hours (at a minimum) before exercise. You want to give your body the time it needs to focus on digesting its food. When you are working out, we need to allow our bodies to focus on expending the necessary energy for that workout. Now what do we consume in that window? Studies have shown that easily digestible carbs i.e Banana, Apple etc. paired with a healthy protein can be an effective tool for fueling your workout. Simple Carbs will digest quickly into the bloodstream and provide your body with natural energy to sustain your workout, while protein aids the body in recovery & essential amino acids. Good examples of post-workout meals would be the following – PB & J sandwich, Greek Yogurt & Berries, Oatmeal with fruit, apple and peanut butter, handful of nuts with raisins etc. because these are well-balanced meals.
Post workout meals are great for replenishing the glycogen stores you just depleted during the workout. This meal can and should be consumed within 1-2 hours and can even be eaten immediately after the workout. Studies have indicated multiple benefits to having your simple carbs right after a workout. In the research, it shows that doing so will not result in fat gain/storage because the body is readily available to use the sugars/carbs as recovery. Additionally, Glucose levels are impacted far less by simple carbs post workout than any other time of the day.
Why does my glucose levels matter? Our glucose levels are an indication of how our body responds to exercise, sleep & food. Swings in glucose up and down can impact how you feel, certain cravings you have, and even weight gain. Effectively managing those swings can lead to fat loss, reducing cravings & even better sleep and mental clarity. Aside from just eating simple carbs pre and post workout, consider eating quality protein and fats with your carbs to help reduce those spikes.
In short, plan out and thoughtfully consider what you’re eating pre and post workout. Making those steps will help propel you into better habits and behaviors each and every day.